Let’s Interview; Super Mario World Hack Reviewer Levelengine!

Another one already? We only had an interview with Guinea a few days ago!

Well yeah. This interview has actually been in the works for a while, but things have been a bit too hectic to get it posted. None the less, today’s interviewee is levelengine (aka SMCsLevelEngine on Youtube). Don’t know him? He’s a bit of a minor celebrity in the Super Mario World ROM hacking scene, being someone who reviews Mario ROM hacks from sites like SMW Central and ROM Hacking.net. In addition to this, he’s also been responsible for some major hacks of his own, like Colossus and Bits & Pieces (the latter has him make levels out of resources that other people suggest at random).

So enough backstory, let’s start the interview!

1. First up, what go you into reviewing ROM hacks? Why not any other type of game?

I mean, I did enjoy playing them, so I figured, let’s eventually review them to try and help people improve. The trend really took off after watching another SMW hack reviewer, Azentiger, do the same thing, having gone though a whopping 165 hacks, or something like that.

I don’t do other games really because this computer’s old, like from 2008, so that restricts what I can do unless I get around to upgrading. A sad thing is that when I do want to step out of my comfort zone, I don’t get nearly as much approval for doing so; see the like-dislike ratio on my most recent fanfiction reading.

2. On a similar note, what was your introduction to the Super Mario World hacking scene?

Very stereotypical, really. This was back in 2008, somewhere around the peak of the ProtonJon era of Let’s Players. I believe Mario’s Wacky Worlds was what he was playing at the time. This led me to try and create my own hacks, which weren’t very good mainly because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. For the first 3 years of my SMW hacking timeline (2008-2010), I was making hacks with the goal of sending one over to ProtonJon to let’s play.

Above: ProtonJon was a massive influence on levelengine

3. Onto reviews now. What’s the reason you decide to review one hack over another one?

Romhack reviews actually started out only in 2012 and took a long while to pick up. I have no real rhyme or reason. Sometimes I get requested a hack to play, sometimes I find something interesting by myself, or through word of mouth, and other times I do romhack roulette, the risky practice of playing a romhack on SMW Central before it’s been moderated.

4. How about your scoring system? What counts towards a game getting a good review score?

This is a simple percentage, ranging between 0 and 100. There are key areas on the scale, 60 being the cut-off point between bad and decent enough, 80 being a point of excellence, and 30 being a minimum unless I’m forced to give lower.

A romhack is consisted of many overall parts, but what I always look for is how it actually plays, which would heavily depend on how levels get designed. As I once wanted to say, “Gameplay and fun factor are king and queen, and graphics is the royal guard. Everything else is a peon.” Essentially, this means that if a game doesn’t play well, the fancy gimmicks and aesthetics will have been wasted.

5. Why levelengine anyway? What’s the engine thing a reference to?

Well, there’s the “level”, which is essentially the maps or objectives a player takes on throughout the game, and then there’s the “engine”, which processes, produces, and breathes levels/level design. Not just that, with how much content I’ve built in 2014 and 2015, it’s clear that I do live up to my pseudonym. And there’s no sign of me stopping anytime soon.

6. As for SMW Central, what was your story there? When did you first decide to register and why?

I registered after having gotten back into the hobby in 2012, after having completed Luigi’s Adventure OSE and Rise to the Challenge savestateless. I also decided to submit one of my old 2009-2010 hacks thinking it still had to be good in some way. While I was wrong, I think that was one of my best decisions I’ve made. Or possibly even one of my worst.

Above: Part 1 of his Luigi’s Adventure review

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Let’s Interview… Guinea of Mario Fan Games Galaxy!

When it comes to interviews here on Gaming Reinvented, popular fan game and ROM hack developers are common choices. We’ve interviewed everyone from Fusion Gameworks, we’ve interviewed MFGG celebrities like Thunder Dragon and DJ Coco, heck we’ve even interview WwwWario about his interests in Wario Land fan game development!

And today, we’ve got someone else with an interesting story to tell. Step forward Guinea, one of the main administrators over at Mario fan gaming site Mario Fan Games Galaxy! Well renowned for making such great games as Super Mario Bros DDX and Super Mario Bros & the Midas Machine, Guinea has been involved in the community since all the way back in 2005.

So let’s see what he has to say about Mario fan games, MFGG and game development in general!

1. Okay, so as usual, let’s start off with a personal question. Can you tell us a bit about yourself in general?

This is always one of the hardest questions to answer! *laughs*

I am somebody who loves games of all kind (video games as well as board games) ever since I can think.

I was always interested in technology, but also do other stuff like sports, cooking, and not to forget I am also a huge movie buff.

Those who want to know more can find me on MFGG, or read the rest of this interview.

2. So what initially made you interested in the Mario series? Any one game in particular, like Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, eh?

The first time I came in contact with Mario, it was on the SNES of a cousin of mine.
He had Super Mario World and I immediately fell in love with Yoshi.

Above: Not in the original Super Mario World, but it’s a great video to show off the game regardless.

At age five, I finally got my own SNES from my parents. It came bundled with Super Mario All-Stars, however, none of the four SMB games had Yoshi in it! As a kid, this was quite disappointing for me. *laughs*

The more I played though, the more I started to appreciate the games I had, especially Super Mario Bros. 3.

The very first Mario game I have ever played is now proudly sitting in my library; my cousin gifted me his copy of Super Mario World when he sold his SNES years later.

3. How about fan games? What made you start making those?

Around the time when I got a Nintendo 64, I started being more creative.

I designed board games using pen and paper and also sketched down ideas for Nintendo 64 games that I wanted to make. Those ideas included Mario themed games, such as a Yoshi’s Island sequel in which Bowser rides Yoshi instead of Mario, as well as original ideas.

Unfortunately I had no means to make any of these games back then. *laughs*

Fast forward to the era of Game Maker 4.0 and RPG Maker 2000.

My first video game I made in Game Maker was actually an original game called Ginni Pig Adventure, starring my own guinea pig. I used Mario sound effects that I got from themushroomkingdom.net, and then I got inspired to make an amazing Mario fan game.

However, I just ended up making Super Mario Bros. 4. *laughs*

Years later, I found MFGG and submitted it there and later joined the forums.

4. Your first games… had a bit of a mixed reception (especially ‘Super Mario Bros 4’). What were the mistakes made here that your later works improved on?

Well, I would not call Super Mario Bros. 4 a mistake, but a learning experience. I was new to game making, and I was happy that I could slap together any game at all!

I did learn a couple of lessons though, such as: do not use a *.wav file which is larger than the entire rest of the game, even if it is the amazing theme of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show.

Above: The Super Mario Bros Super Show theme (from the intro)

Also, learn to properly pick your sprites and make sure they don’t clash. And don’t call your fan games “Super Mario Bros. 4”.

5. Now onto Super Mario Bros DDX. What inspired you to make this title? It’s not your typical remake of Super Mario Bros?

The story of the making of Super Mario Bros. DDX is a very interesting one.

I started out with the desire to code the ultimate 2D Mario engine, filled with a ton of features and lots of power-ups.

As I aimed to combine elements from all the mainline Mario games, including features from 3D games like Mario’s special jumps, I called it AME, the All-Mario-Engine.

It was one of the first engines on MFGG (or even the first?) that had pixel perfect collision code that made it impossible to get stuck in walls.

I also kept a development log using a forum thread, creating very high interest in AME.
In the end however, I focused so much on the features of the engine, that I forgot to think about the game I want to make with it.

Some time down the road, I put recoloured SMB sprites into AME for fun.

At the time the more serious looking SMB sprites appealed to me and I got hit by inspiration.
So after all this time creating an engine with all the features, I threw 90% of them out and used it to make a Super Mario Bros. 1 clone. *laughs*

However, my goal was not to merely recreate Super Mario Bros. I wanted to take the classic gameplay and use it for an epic story with cutscenes and bosses.

If you pay attention to the cutscenes, you will also notice that I had played Metroid Fusion around that time.

Inspiration also came from the famous “Super Mario XP”, a crossover between SMB and Castlevania.

Above: Super Mario XP was an influence on Guinea

6. And how about that final boss? Where did you get the idea of making Bowser turn giant and Mario have to fight him in a kaiju style boss battle?

Super Mario Bros. DDX was in development for quite some time, and I made the story up as I went.

The very first boss is a regular Bowser which you can defeat like in the classic Super Mario Bros. For the second boss though, I wanted something more original. There has never been a Blooper boss (in a 2D Mario game), so I wanted to make one.

I ended up resizing a Blooper and I liked how the fight played out.

Above: The level with the Blooper boss mentioned

I decided to stay consistent and make the other bosses huge pixelated versions of smaller enemies as well.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

Thus the obvious conclusion was to fight a larger version of Bowser in the end.

However, since that was not yet epic enough for my tastes, I cranked it up to eleven and made it a multi-phase boss fight, in which you first have to fight a regular Bowser, then run away from one that’s larger than the screen, and finally you get to rise to the challenge and fight him one-on-one, with the screen shaking on every jump and everything!

Above: The last boss in Super Mario Bros DDX

If you pay close attention, you will notice that the final battle arena is actually a miniature version of the previous level.

This was obviously followed by the mandatory escape sequence together with a cameo appearance of a very confused bounty hunter.

To this day, I still enjoy going to YouTube and watching the video of someone playing that last boss battle. *laughs*

It’s my first rule of fangaming: make the game you would want to play yourself.

7. A few questions about Mushroom Patrol the Midas Machine now. What even is a Mushroom Patrol? Or a Midas Machine?

Note: It’s been changed to Super Mario Bros. & The Midas Machine to avoid exactly this question.

The Midas Machine part is easily explained. It refers to the name of the machine which is powered by the Hand of Midas.

The machine can be used to turn anything into gold, with the added benefit, as Captain Syrup explains it, that the user is not affected by its curse.

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Let’s Interview; The Source Gaming Team!

Since 2014, Source Gaming has been a rare kind of gaming site. Originally founded for the Smash Bros community and focused on translating Japanese interviews and material, they spend their time trying to debunk rumours and find the truth behind gaming controversies. They’ve talked about verifying rumours, found the origin of Wario’s moveset in Super Smash Bros Brawl and found out what the Japanese audience thinks of various franchises as well as much more.

Source Gaming Banner

Above: The banner/branding for Source Gaming.

And now they’re ready to talk about the site with us on Gaming Reinvented! So let’s see what the Source Gaming folks have to say about localisations, gaming and Smash Bros, in our exclusive interview!

So let’s start with a bit of backstory first; how did Source Gaming originally come about? What made you decide to make such a website?

PushDustIn: I was trying to blog for a long time. I had a couple of other ideas, including a blog where I review Community episodes or write about living in Japan. I decided that I should practice translating in my free time so I could improve my skill, and so I could eventually transition into a localization/ translation type of job eventually. Originally Source Gaming was going to house this huge comparison of Majoras Mask (Japanese vs. US vs. Pal, and the N64/ Gamecube and Virtual Console Release) but I found out a lot of the work was done by Glitterberri. At the same time I became very interested in rumors surrounding Smash for 3DS/ Wii U so I had joined Smashboards’ Leak Group. There I became really interested in rumors, and researching them. Disproving them is a lot of fun!

Were there any other sites that inspired you?

PushDustIn: Legends of Localization, Kantopia, GameXplain and SSB4Dojo were the “main ingredients” of Source Gaming. If you think about it, our content is essentially a mixture of all those sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with all of those sites in some way over the past year and a half.

And once the site was up, what inspired you to become part of the team?

PushDustIn: Most of the staff was added from the former Leaks Group on SmashBoards. Nantendo had his own blog which I read, so I recruited him. Nirbion was a friend of GameOnion and after seeing my poor excuse of a header, asked if he could help out with SG. Soma contacted me on Twitter and joined pretty soon after.

Onto Super Smash Bros now, given the site was originally about that series. What’s your history in the Super Smash Bros community? Did you play Melee competitively before?

PushDustIn: I’ve always loved Smash. In high school, I would play Melee for hours with my friends, and in college we played Brawl every day. I used to stay awake for the daily updates on the dojo, and I enjoyed the hype cycle even though I wasn’t part of “the Smash community.” I only joined the online community about 2-3 months before starting Source Gaming.

Soma: I play Melee competitively, have for a year and a half, maybe longer. I’d known it was played competitively since the MLG days, but I didn’t really get back into it until “The Smash Brothers” documentary and EVO 2013. Although me and my friends stopped playing Brawl within a couple months and went back to Melee even as casual players.

Smash Bros is known for its rumours and questionable ‘leaks’ posted before an instalment’s release date. Were there any of these rumours you actually believed at one point?

LIQUID12A: I, for one, was hooked on the Rayman hoax by ArtsyOmni. It seemed so legitimate with the effort Omni himself put into duping us. I was disappointed when it turned out to be a hoax(not heavily, however, since I approached it with skepticism in spite of the “evidence”) since Rayman is a huge favourite of mine, but I’m glad it happened since it puts new perspective on what to believe and the lengths some will go to in order to fool the collective community.

Rayman Leak Unlock Screen

Above: LIQUID12A fell for this Rayman ‘leak’ before it was revealed as a hoax, as did a lot of other people.

Nantendo: I was quite a big believer of the Gematsu leak. I still am to an extent as I think he definitely had information, just outdated information. I will say despite my current thoughts it was pretty enjoyable when Robin appeared on Monado Monday and completely blew Gematsu away. It allowed for Smash speculation to begin anew.

Gematsu leak

Above: The Gematsu leaks fooled a lot of people.

And for character choices, what’s the story there? Masahiro Sakurai often makes some interesting choices with what newcomers to include, and they often don’t seem to match the characters people are expecting. What’s the logic behind the choices?

PushDustIn: Part of it is that Sakurai does like to surprise people. He seemed pretty happy with himself that (almost) no one saw Wii Fit Trainer coming. Another big part, and this was mentioned in his live stream, is that Sakurai has to figure out what the audience wants — especially the “silent majority”. I know some people will roll their eyes when hearing that, but it’s true. The fanbase that is extremely active with Smash is only a part of the larger Smash fanbase. Brawl sold over 10 million copies, and even /r/SmashBros doesn’t have a quarter of a million subscribers. That’s less than 3% of the sales of just Brawl. A lot of people Smash, and Sakurai tries to consider the whole fanbase — not just the hardcore community. That being said, he does generally pick pretty popular characters. These characters tend to be protagonists, or recurring enemies in a series. Geno was perhaps the most shocking translation we did…I rechecked that sentence several times to make sure it was correct.

Above: The Wii Fit Trainer was a surprising addition to Smash Bros 4

Which Super Smash Bros game is your favourite? The original, Melee, Brawl, the 3DS version or the Wii U version?

PushDustIn: I enjoy unlocking everything, and since Wii U/3DS have the most amount of content, I will say those games. Wii U has an edge over 3DS because of the GameCube controller support.
Nantendo: I am personally stuck between Melee and Wii U. Wii U is definitely the one that has the most going for it, feels the most complete with more content and a solid basis for future games. I want any future smash games to be based on Wii U. However, I cannot deny that I have a lot of fond memories of Melee and its Adventure Mode and I like to go back a revisit it from time to time.

Were there any character announcements that made you really excited? Like maybe Sonic or Mega Man or Pac-Man or whoever else?
And if you could pick one newcomer for the next Smash Bros title, who would it be and why?

LIQUID12A: Mewtwo and Cloud are tied for most exciting reveals for me. The former since he was my most wanted before Smash 4’s release, and the latter because his inclusion seemed all sorts of impossible. And Cloud is how Ryu’s reveal should have happened; completely untainted by leaks to ensure a huge nuclear explosion of excitement.

Above: No one expected Cloud to be a DLC character for Smash 4

In my completely biased world, I select Sylux from Metroid to join the next Smash title. On a personal level, it’s a character I’ve loved for a decade now about to re-enter the spotlight within its series. I’ve covered the character objectively in three separate occasions on this site, so I encourage you to check out those.

Sylux

Above: Could Metroid Prime Hunters bounty hunter Sylux be a good character choice for Super Smash Bros?

Soma: I don’t really care about Nintendo characters or the characters in Smash as, well, characters, and I don’t really like playing Smash for Wii U/3DS all that much, so not really.

General localisation questions now. What misconceptions about localisation annoy you the most and why?

Soma: I personally find it pretty frustrating when people apply the “well, it’s a translation, so you never know what he said, maybe you should ignore this” train of logic to our translations. Of course, it’s a completely fair one if you don’t know anything about the quality of the translation, but I like to think SG has a good enough reputation and that our translations actually are high quality, so you can’t just dismiss what was said using that line of logic.

PushDustIn: Building on what Soma said, I don’t think a lot of people realize that we proof our translations pretty seriously. Not a lot of sites do this, so I can understand the misconception. Especially if it’s a controversial topic, we will discuss what is the best way to translate it.

When I was first starting to study Japanese, I thought that the literal translation was the best way. After living in Japan, and having more exposure to Japanese I realized that literal translations are not always the best. I saw on a toilet here that they translated Ongaku (Music) as Privacy. At first, I was wondering why they didn’t just use the literal translation — after all ongaku is a pretty simple word. But I realized that privacy better defines that feature on the toilet. Foreigners unaware of that toilet’s feature would better understand because they opted not to use a literal translation.

A less weird example is how place names are romanized in Japan. Kumamoto Castle might be written as Kumamotojyou Castle on signs. If you speak a little bit of Japanese, then you might ask yourself, “Why did they write Kumamoto Castle Castle?” I’m guessing the reason was that when foreigners ask, “Where is Kumamotojyou Castle” the locals will at least pick up “Kumamotojyou” and be more likely to help.

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Wario Land, Youtube and More; An Interview with WwwWario!

Well, that’s certainly been a while hasn’t it? Seems like the last interview we had on Gaming Reinvented was back in November 2015, a gap of more than three months! But fortunately, interviews are now resuming here on the site, and first on the list is a name that many Nintendo fans will know.

It’s WwwWario! Notable for creating the Super Wario series, the Five Nights at Wario’s series and the upcoming Super Wario Land game, he’s a popular Youtube celebrity with 60,000 subscribers and a list of videos that have taken the internet by storm! And now, exclusively on Gaming Reinvented, we have an interview with the man himself.

So enough with the intro, let’s get to what matters! Here’s our interview with fan game and Youtube phenomenon WwwWario!

Well, thanks for accepting the interview! Let’s start out with a few general questions first. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Sure! My name is Andreas, but since Andy is both a nickname for Andreas and more international, I use Andy while online. I live in a little village in Norway where everyone know each other, and this place is heavenly beautiful. I have two big brothers who are twins who love sports and are very talented gymnastics. I’m very shy, something I hope to overcome soon. I love music, games, movies, and horror stuff. I go music school in High School with the best class in the world, and I play mostly piano, but also play guitar and accordion (and try to sing for myself). I generally love all type of music, everything from slow sad songs to fast country songs. The only genre I really don’t like is metal. And yeah, that’s the general stuff I guess! I’m crazy after chocolate too, that’s important to note.

And what’s your history with video games? What one did you start with all those years ago?

I have lovely memories with games. Me and my brothers have always played together since I can’t remember when. Our first console was Nintendo 64, and we played Mario Party, Super Smash Bros., and other games when we didn’t have anything else to do, and I have such wonderful memories with it. We got the Gamecube shortly after, so I believe actually one of the first games I every played was Super Mario 64, Zelda: The Wind Waker, Starfox Adventures, or some of the Mario Party games. Can’t remember. I’ve loved games every since, because they’re not just fun, but it’s like a movie where you have control. Some games are beautiful and tells a beautiful story with beautiful music, some games are fun because they take lots of skill, and some games just drags you into them because of their atmosphere, characters, etc.

Above: The original Super Smash Bros was one of WwwWario’s earliest games.

Above: As were the Mario Party titles on the system

Onto a Wario question now. What’s your history with the franchise? Why do you like the Wario series so much?

My first Wario game was Wario Land 4, even though I knew him before that from Mario Party and other sport games. I got the Gameboy Advance as pretty young, so WL4 is very nostalgic for me. After that, I’ve gotten Wario Land Shake It, Wario World, and tried Wario Land 2 and 3 a good amount of years later and love them. They’re so good imo, because, well, they have Wario, and they’re very unusual yet familiar platformers. They have you go through exciting levels, but often with absurd enemies and transformations that only Wario Land provides. I like Wario Ware too, but I don’t like it nearly as much as Wario Land. I’ve always been a massive Wario fan. I remember the early internet days for me, whenever I found just a PICTURE of Wario on Google, I went crazy, and I just HAD to print it and draw it. I loved to draw before, you see, but not as much now. I even drew lots of Wario comics. I don’t know why I was so crazy after Wario. It might just be that he was my favourite Mario character since I both liked his design and personality, and the fact that me and my brothers chose one of the 4 bros as our “own”, you know (one of my brothers have always had Luigi as his favourite, my other one always had Waluigi). It’s also the fact that I’ve always liked big and strong characters in games. In all fighting games I’ve played I’ve always liked the big guys, the fat guys, or the strong guys. Not much of the small fast ones, or the magic ones.

Above: His first Wario Land game was Wario Land 4

For that matter, what type of Wario Land game do you enjoy the most? Traditional Mario gameplay like in the original, puzzle gameplay where you can’t die like in 2 or 3, or the ‘get the treasure and escape the level’ gameplay from 4 and Shake Dimension?

I think I like Wario Land 3 the most, even though that was actually the Wario Land game I played last! But in spite of that, I still get nostalgic feelings from WL3 for some reason, probably because the game just feels so Wario-ish. I think it has brilliant puzzles, and as I’ve explained in a video of mine, I simply LOVE the backtracking in this game. The fact that you see doors or places you can’t reach first, and later in the game, you either get an item or power-up that allows you to come back to these levels to find new areas. It’s brilliant, and having these 4 chests in the level really gives off a good 100% feeling. I also like the fact that you can’t die in this game. I like that you can in WL4 and Shake It, but not dying fits better with WL3’s level design and gameplay.

Above: but Wario Land 3 is his favourite Wario Land game.

Have you played Wario World or Wario Master of Disguise? What do you think of them?

Wario World is SO underrated and amazing. It has so much you can collect, it forces you to truly explore the levels, it has many awesome and satisfying moves, cool platforming, great difficulty, and typical Wario enemies (absurd ones). Really a great game. As for Master of Disguise, I can say so much that it’s very different. Not only with how you transform, but the whole feeling you get from the game. I think it has to do with the more realistic world, the music, the sounds, etc. that makes this game feel so different. People hate it, or dislike it, for the most part, but I think it very good. It has good level design, great puzzles, very cool transformations, and the dialogs for Wario are just amazingly fun.

Wario Master of Disguise box

Above: Unlike quite a few Wario fans, WwwWario enjoyed playing Wario Master of Disguise for the Nintendo DS.

Let’s talk fan games now. What got you into making them?

It was many years ago when I found this Youtuber called Kjellm87, who also happened to be Norwegian, who had made a video called “MY OWN GAMES” or something. I thought “What? He has made his OWN games?!” and indeed he had. I got SUPER excited that someone had made their own Mario games. So I made a Youtube channel just so I could message him and ask questions, and that’s also one of the reasons how my Youtube channel was born. He helped me A LOT, and spent a lot of time with that too. He taught me so much. I most likely wouldn’t make games today if he didn’t help me back in the day.

So, your main series seems to be the ‘Super Wario’ series. What inspired these games?

After I started to figure out how the software (Multimedia Fusion 2) worked, I immediately wanted to make a Wario platformer, obviously, as the Wario fan I am. I wanted to make something super epic, you know, with epic dialogues and epic boss battles and epic endings, but looking at it now, it’s pretty pathetic and funny since the games I made back then were so bad, haha! Anyways, my first game was called Super Wario 10 (since I made it in 2010), and the Wario sprite there is made by this Kjellm87. The game is very short, very glitchy, and not really fun at all. But I was proud of it. So I thought that I will now make people excited by announcing a second Super Wario game, and so the series continued with The Ghost Ship, The Hunt of the Frozen Treasure, 4Tune, and the World of Wirio.

Above: Super Wario 4Tune (one of WwwWario’s favourite fan game creations)

They also seem to have a very… hand drawn aesthetic. What made you decide to draw your own sprites and backgrounds for these titles?

I always thought that using ripped sprites from other official games will just make my game blend in with the rest and basically become worse versions of their official counterparts. I wanted to use own graphics to both make the games stand out, and to give them some more personality and truly make them feel like mine. I don’t use much custom graphics in this game I’m making now, since it’s not in the Super Wario series, and I wanted to make a really good game now, with proper and good graphics.

And out of all these games, which ones are you most and least favourites? Why?

I believe, out of my 5 Super Wario games, my favourite is my 4th one, Super Wario 4Tune. This was the one I thought would turn out the best, and I still think that one did. I used a LOT of time on that game, and I truly wanted to make it epic and big, by trying to make more exciting cutscenes, putting Photoshop to good use, lots of moves, a shop, exciting levels, Wario Land 4 gameplay, etc., and I think that one turned out the best, honestly. I did use Photoshop a bit TOO much, I think, since the graphics are often too big so the game can lag or even crash sometimes, but not often at all. I’ve learned more how to use it smart now, tho. The one I’m least proud of is my first one, since, well, it’s the worst, haha! However, there is one I’m even less proud of – a cancelled game, that was supposed to be my 3rd one. It was called Super Wario & The Amulet of Time, which would take Wario back in time to the times of the Big Bang, and teleport him forward in time for each level, going through Earth’s history. But that game’s small demo got SO many complains, and for good reason, since the game was both historically incorrect, glitchy, looked bad, etc., so I cancelled it and started on a new 3rd Super Wario which would eventually become Super Wario & The Hunt of the Frozen Treasure.

Above: Super Wario the Amulet of Time was not well received.

Now, what encouraged you to make the Five Nights at Wario’s games? They’re obviously Five Nights at Freddy’s fan games, but why Wario?

Now this was fun, haha! FNAF was pretty new at the time. I found FNAF on Markiplier’s channel and thought it was “just another decent horror game”, but this was kinda before FNAF exploded into what it became. I THINK it was around FNAF2, or maybe before that was released, that I started making something. I thought that “hmm, I wonder if someone has made a FNAF fan game?”, so I started playing around and managed to make a engine that worked similar to FNAF, so I thought to myself “I’ll make this into an actual fan game!”. And a few days before that, I had found a GIF on Twitter, where Wario’s head was flashing in the left door in the office instead of Freddy’s head, and under it was the text “Five Night’s at Wario’s”, and it was both hilarious and horrifying at the same time. So that’s how I got the idea, since I had models for Wario and Co. from Smash Bros Brawl. I uploaded the demo, thinking that this was the first FNAF fan game, but apparently Five Nights at Treasure Island was before mine. I believe Treasure Island was the first ever FNAF fan game, and mine was the second one.

Above: A trailer for Five Nights at Wario’s

One of the key things about these games are the creepy, messed up Mario verse character designs. How did you create these spooky character models?

This is interesting. For all of them, I made a pose for them inside BrawlBox (the Brawl modding software), took a print screen, removed the background, and put them into the pictures of the different rooms, before adding shadows, etc. For Wario, I simply used Photoshop afterwards to make his eyes glowing, and making some black lines in his face. For Waluigi, I did the same, but I also stretched out his arms to make him look more uncanny and really play on his height and skinny body. As for Peach, I did the same, pretty much. For Luigi, however, I went through all of his animations inside this BrawlBox software (you can look at and play the animations from Brawl in there), and for some reason, some animations made Luigi’s nose super big and stretched out, even though that didn’t happen in Smash Bros Brawl itself. So I used this to my advantage! As for Mario, I removed some models on him by accident (namely his head), so only his eyes and moustache were left. So I used this to my advantage, too, haha!

Despite the name, Five Nights at Wario’s arguably takes a bit more inspiration from general Mario games than Wario. Why are there fairly few Wario Land and WarioWare characters featured in them?

Well, mostly because the models for Luigi, Waluigi, etc. were already in this BrawlBox software, so I had the models ready for use. Finding models for others would be hard. Also the fact that I wanted to use the most familiar Mario characters so everyone would be familiar with them.

Is Five Nights at Wario’s 3 the final game?

Story-wise, yes. But Five Nights at Wario’s: Origins came after that, too. That’s the last game I made in the series, and will ever make. The story is a little complicated time-paradox and time loop. FNAW3 has both a good and bad ending, and FNAW: Origins is a result of the bad ending, resulting in the loop starting over, but the events in the whole story couldn’t have happened if Origins didn’t happen first… so, a time-paradox, because it’s a mystery where this whole loop started.

Above: A trailer for Five Nights at Wario’s Origins

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Interview with Thunder Dragon; Maker of Psycho Waluigi

It’s been a while, but interviews are now resuming at Gaming Reinvented!  What’s more, this time, we’ve got one with a name that will be very familiar to anyone in the Mario fan games community.  Because you see, today we’re talking with Thunder Dragon, the maker of such well known classics as Psycho Waluigi, Toad Strikes Back and Toadette Strikes Back.

Above: A trailer for Psycho Waluigi, illustrating what the game is about.

Haven’t heard of them?  Well, the former is pretty much the most popular Mario fan game ever made, outside of Mushroom Kingdom Fusion.  It’s had a ton of Let’s Plays (including ones by raocow and PBG among others) and even has its own page on GameFAQs and Gamespot.

Above: Peanut Butter Gamer’s Psycho Waluigi video.

 

The other two are a bit less popular, but also highly regarded in the community.  So with that said, let’s get right to the interview!

1. What inspired you to create Psycho Waluigi, and its whole ‘telekinesis’ gimmick?

Psycho Waluigi, quite literally, came to me in a dream! Practically the entire concept was spawned quite randomly, in vivid detail, in the murky depths of my oft times twisted subconscious. Yes, even the very nature of the “telekinesis” gimmick – how it worked, how it was a purple eyeball cloud thingy – all of it. I knew, that somehow, some way, I HAD to bring this concept into the waking world.

Granted, I did need to take a few liberties from the, ehrm, “source material.” In the original dream, Psycho Waluigi employed both the file select screen and the world map from the original Donkey Kong Country. Also, there was some sort of two player mode, where the second player apparently controlled a so-called “Buddy Kong” – who was basically just a dwarfish DK in a blue t-shirt. Yeah.

2. And how about the new characters? What was the inspiration behind Hazel and Psycho Iris?

Actually, while I’m on the subject of Donkey Kong, let me first talk about the shopkeeper, Monkeybags. See, I wanted to preserve the dream’s origins somehow, so I made the shopkeeper into the obligatory DK reference. He might not resemble “Buddy Kong” as he had originally come to me, but hey – in my mind, he truly -is- Buddy Kong. Because after all, who would seriously name their child “Monkeybags?”

As for General Hazel, I wanted to give Waluigi his own “Captain Syrup” – see, I consider Psycho Waluigi to be some kind of a strange, alternate universe version of the first Wario Land, which proved to be a major influence. Hazel ended up taking after Syrup’s Wario Land 2 appearance, however, what with her penchant for piloting machines. I wanted a strict, no nonsense hero antagonist to counteract Waluigi’s clownish villain protagonist. I didn’t want her to be TOO too serious, though (this is a Mario game, after all!), so I gave her an oversized hat and a couple of ridiculous machines themed after Mario enemies to command.

Above: General Hazel was designed as Waluigi’s version of Captain Syrup.

Now, for Psycho Iris, this character was created to justify the setting. For a long time, I mulled over how to explain both Waluigi’s psychic powers AND his justification for using them to take over the world. Having a mysterious voice talking in his head seemed amusing enough to me, so everything just spiraled wildly out of control from there!

3. The graphics in Psycho Waluigi seem to go pretty well together, given all the games they originated in. How did you manage to get them working together to provide such a cohesive art style?

I’m an illustrator in real life. Although I didn’t do any actual drawing for Psycho Waluigi, save for a few original sprites, my visual arts background nonetheless played a part here. I’ve done collages before, so I consider using pre-existing graphics – and editing them for cohesiveness – not unlike something out of the Pop Art movement, or even a Dada-esque photomontage of some sort.

Psycho Waluigi Screen

Above: Given how the graphics here come from Yoshi’s Island, Super Mario World, Wario Land 4 and Mario Kart Super Circuit (among others), its amazing how well they fit together in game.

4. Did you ever see the game becoming so popular? What was your reaction to its popularity on sites like Youtube?

I expected it to become popular within Mario Fan Games Galaxy. Outside of MFGG’s walls, however? That’s crazy, yo! Truth be told, I have mixed feelings about its popularity. See, fangaming for me was something of a guilty pleasure, as I was effectively building on somebody else’s intellectual property, which, depending on whom you might ask, is a question of dubious legality. I feel that if something of mine should receive widespread recognition, I would prefer something original. Something that is, you know, actually mine.

kympsychowaluigi

Above: Thunder Dragon did not expect the amount of media coverage that Psycho Waluigi has received.  It even appears on the Know Your Meme page for Waluigi, like as seen above.

But then again, as a fan of such a quirky and polarizing character as Waluigi, I must say that I have no regrets contributing to his legacy. A lot of the game’s popularity can be owed to the fact that somebody was actually NUTS enough to make a game centered on Waluigi, of all characters! And, I’ll admit, that’s a pretty cool feeling! Furthermore, all those Let’s Plays on Youtube? Not only are they entertaining (raocow’s LP, especially), but actually seeing others playing my game, and in turn commenting on it, helps me improve as a developer. That is more valuable to me than their players could ever hope to realize. So, I say to all of them, each and every one: thank you.

And that ends the questions about Psycho Waluigi.  But the interview doesn’t end there, so now onto some questions about Thunder Dragon’s other works; Toad Strikes Back and Toadette Strikes Back.

5. Why Toad and Toadette? Do you think they’re underrated and deserve their own games?

You know, when it comes to any sort of media franchise, whatever it may be, I find myself drawn to the little people. The bit parts. The nameless henchmen and villagers. I just… feel a natural synergy with them. Are they not us? I yearn to know what their lives are like, what they do, and so on and so forth – I’m sure that somewhere out there, we have a nameless Toad whose feats can compete with, and even exceed those of Mario himself. Maybe they didn’t rescue any princesses or whatever, but perhaps we have a great artist, an explorer, an innovator, a leader. A lowly Toad can be any of those things – why not? Besides, they’re stinkin’ adorable.

6. Toadette Strikes Back came out quite a while after the first, any reason for that?

Originally, I didn’t want to make a sequel to Toad Strikes Back. And yet, one day, I started making a sequel on a complete whim for no discernable reason at all. I think it was spurred in part by my love of Super Mario Bros. 2 – one day, I was playing that glorious gem of a game, and I asked myself, “how come there aren’t more Mario 2 fangames? And why aren’t I doing anything about it?” And before I knew it, there I was. I was still working on Psycho Waluigi when I began Toadette Strikes, so the latter became something of a cool-off point. It was made to be little more than a silly throwback to the early days of MFGG, while I consciously aimed to work Psycho Waluigi into a grand affair.

Above: Toadette Strikes Back was released quite a while after the first one.

7. So, the bosses in Toad Strikes Back. What was the inspiration behind their strange, somewhat ‘edgy’ designs?

Toad Strikes Back was my first fangame that wasn’t completely terrible! As such, I was still learning the ropes. Back then, I didn’t care about such things as graphical consistency; and at the time, I was drawing a lot of crazy monsters! Said crazy monsters ended up influencing my newbie sprite work. I was basically doing what I normally did, without concerns for conventions, and no boss exemplifies this better than that ridiculous, oversized, demonic Goomba.

Above: The bosses in Toad Strikes Back are… original in their designs.

8. Toadette Strikes Back seems to take a lot of inspiration from Super Mario Bros 2. What’s the story behind that? Is the final boss really some sort of Marx Soul version of Wart?

As I said before, SMB2 is an absolute stroke of genius. Most consider it to be the black sheep of the Super Mario Bros. series, while I consider it a sacred cow. It introduced concepts never seen before or since, and it remains practically ageless. I’m not sure if I’d label it my absolute favorite Mario game, but it is definitely up there. We need more Mario 2, both in fangames and in official releases! As for the boss you mentioned, I should also note that I deeply admire the Kirby series, in case that wasn’t obvious! I’m sure you’ve been noticing a bit of a trend in my final bosses, eh hee hee.

Above: The bosses in Toadette Strikes Back are very much influenced by Super Mario Bros 2.

9. A couple of years ago, you stepped down as staff member on Mario Fan Games Galaxy. How was it being a staff member there?

Well, I created MFGG, so my experiences may naturally differ from those who would serve on the staff in the years to come. I was really only active during the site’s early years, and most of my work can be best summed up as “getting the site off the ground.” The site grew quickly, and soon enough, it was much bigger than I was willing to handle. Maintaining the forums proved especially stressful, prompting me to flat out leave on a couple of occasions. All of it proved to be incredibly daunting, and it kept me from, you know, actually making Mario fangames. You know, the very purpose of the site to begin with? I may have created MFGG, but I felt I wasn’t cut out to be an actual staff member. My place was that of a simple game developer.

I continue to hope that, with my games, I was able to bring to MFGG what I couldn’t bring as a staff member. And to all MFGG staff members, past and present: THANK YOU. Thank you so much for picking up my slack – I feel unworthy, haha! Really, you folks have no idea how grateful I am for all that you have done.

10. Why did you stop making Mario fan games?

Fangaming was a big part of my childhood, all of my teenage years, and the greater part of my twenties. I knew I had to outgrow it eventually. I intended for Psycho Waluigi to be my last fangame – it presented the foundation for something original, after all. However, by the time it was finished, production of Toadette Strikes was well underway; so as I toiled away at the latter, it dawned on me: this is all WAY too limiting. I had a more rigid standard to uphold. More restrictions. I could do some original things, but only so much before it began to lose form. Working on TSB2, I felt like I had to dig myself out of a hole. I knew I had the potential for greater things. It was time to move on. It was time to take the next logical step from Psycho Waluigi: it was time to make something completely original. I’d be free of restrictions, free of legal concerns. Finally, a chance to come out of my shell.

With that said, though, I’m glad I tried my hand at Mario. Aside from being something of a childhood dream fulfilled, it gave me a high standard of quality to work towards – as far as I’m concerned, Mario is the best. I had to push myself to be truly worthy of Mario. Through all that Mario has taught me, my future projects can only get better from here.

11. Finally, what advice would you give new game developers for their future projects?

So, you want to make your own game? If so, please remember this simple bit of advice: make it your own. Make it something only you can make! I cannot stress this enough! Make it your own!

When you’re just starting out, never set a bar for yourself. If you do, you’ve already set it too high. You want to experiment. You want to go nuts! Learn through experience! Our first attempts are never gems, but if you make it your own, you could potentially create something with a dose of quirky charm – something that can make you say, “heeeeeey, I can make things! AWESOME!” And with each step you take, you’re only going to get better and better. Don’t hold yourself to a standard; let it all come naturally. Don’t try to imitate what has already been created. You want to CREATE, not imitate. Even if you are making, say, a Mario fangame, you can still make it your own… in fact, I will insist you make it your own. Don’t take Mario as a mold to fill… Mario is too inspiring for mere imitators. Take Mario as a springboard to the imagination!

Whatever you decide to do with your game making career, just remember: you have limitless potential. You have the power to shape entire universes. So, don’t waste that power. Use it to its full!

And so, that concludes our interview with Thunder Dragon.  We’d like to thank him for his time, and wish him all the best with his non fan game projects in the future.  Perhaps one day one of his non Mario games might become the Psycho Waluigi of its own genre?